Life during Lockdown

Photo of Graham outside his house, taken last summer

The Coronavirus crisis poses existential questions for The Arts as for so much of society. Everyone at NUCoL is doing what we can to adapt to the new situation. Our mission remains the same, building a better world with words, chiefly by fostering literacy and well-being through creative writing. In particular, we’re supporting our young people and our city’s writers, whose work was recognised by Nottingham’s UNESCO status. Reading and writing are crucial tools to help us through these times. I have three books on the go, a challenging novel, a huge, fact-filled biography and, my bedtime comfort read, an omnibus of 60s novels by the great US crime writer, Ross MacDonald.

Most of the creative writers I know are, like me, not finding it easy to write much at the moment. There will be fiction and drama set during the lockdown. There are already some good poems. But for now the main thing I find myself writing are emails to friends around the country, and the world. How is it where you are? Friends have never felt more remote, yet our experiences have never been more similar. Our world is a small place where, like it or not, everyone is connected to and affected by everyone else. After we do get through this, a lot of things have to change. I hope our being one of the 180 cities in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network will help us to make those changes, finding ways to collaborate in making the world a better, safer place.

The kind of writing most suited to the current crisis is undoubtedly memoir. Emails, facebook posts, tweets and blog posts are often my most relevant reading. This week my friend, memoirist Graham Caveney, wrote to offer us a very interesting essay he’d written for his agent’s website, thinking we might like to share it on the NUCoL site. We’ve decided to make this the first in an occasional series, Life during Lockdown. I’ll curate the pieces and welcome contributions from other city authors (you can use the contact button above or email me at chair@nottmcityoflit.org). Read Graham’s piece here and, below, hear the song by The Feelies after which he titled his debut memoir, The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness. It’s the opening track of Crazy Rhythms, their 1980 debut album on Stiff Records.

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